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Who is Giorgia Meloni? Far-right leader set to become Italy’s first female PM

In 1922, Benito Mussolini’s Black Shirts march on Rome. This marked the beginning of 20 years under Fascist rule. Italy is now poised to elect a prime minister whose party has been rooted in neo-Fascism for the first time.

Giorgia, the leader of the far right Brothers of Italy party is widely expected win Sunday’s national elections and form a coalition government with Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party (and Matteo Salvini’s League party).

The 45-year old would be Italy’s first female leader. Italy is far behind its European counterparts in gender parity and the first country with far-right politicians to head government in a major Eurozone economy.

Image: Giorgia Meloni, Silvio Berlusconi, Matteo Salvini (L-R), at the end of the campaign. Pic: AP

This would be a remarkable success for a politician who was once seen as a fringe figure and for a party which won only 4.3% of the vote in the 2018 election.

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Brothers of Italy, founded by Ms Meloni 10 years ago could win 25% to become the largest party in the country.

However, the victory of a nationalist or eurosceptic in Italy will also raise concerns in Europe. Europe is already struggling with Viktor Orban’s Fidesz government in Hungary, the rise of Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement National France, Vox Spain and Chega Portugal.

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Sky News: Meloni says she is honored to be Italy’s first woman PM

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Residents of Mussolini’s birthplace “want to change”

Meloni’s Twitter controversy

Meloni is a Roman native. Her no-nonsense attitude, thick accent, and ability to stir up crowds make her stand out from the white middle-aged men dominating Italian politics and boardrooms makes her stand out.

Her values of God and her (traditional) family reflect those of the Fascist regime. Her party is named after her opening line in the national anthem. It’s a war cry about fighting to the death to achieve freedom.

She is a populist like other populists and speaks out against the “global elites”. She also fights “groupthink”, which she refers to as political correctness and gender ideologies.

She has been an avid supporter of NATO for many years and has spoken out against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Many others on the extreme-right, however, support Vladimir Putin.


Fascist roots

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Meloni – Fascism ‘given over to history’

Ms Meloni, a young woman who praised Mussolini as a child, now rejects the Fascist dictatorship and his anti-Semitic laws.

She puts her party, which is rooted in the Italian Social Movement, (MSI), created by Mussolini supporters, in 1946, in the mainstream alongside the Conservative Party here and the Republican Party in America.

Roger Scruton, the public intellectual and philosopher who instilled Margaret Thatcher’s ideas, is often mentioned by Thatcher.

She said to Sky News Europe Correspondent Adam Parsons, “There is nobody in the world who should be afraid of us.”

In a Facebook video, she tries to assure European capitals she is not threatening democracy by speaking English and other languages.

She says, “Fascism has been handed over to history by the Italian right for decades now.”

Brothers of Italy still uses the Fascist flag-flame logo. It is believed to signify that Fascism continues. Some Mussolini sympathisers are caught giving stiff-arm salutes, and some local officials keep Mussolini memorabilia.

Image Giorgia Meoni is an effective public speaker. Pic: AP


‘I’m Giorgia’

In 2019, Ms. Meloni was the first to be noticed. She gave a powerful speech that would go on to become one of the most memorable speeches in her career.

She addressed her supporters on the Rome piazza and issued a rallying call against the global leftist forces she claimed to see family and national identity enemies and want us to be “just code”.

“But codes are not all that we are. We are people. She said that we will defend our identity.”

In what became a signature line, she said: “I’m Giorgia. I’m also a woman, a mother, an Italian, and a Christian!” That won’t be taken from me!

This last flurry became a popular meme that was remixed into a hit song. It further increased her fame and notoriety. Her autobiography also contains the title “I am Giorgia”.

She opposes adoption of same-sex couples. Peppa Pig’s episode starring a couple with two mothers featured an episode that her party quickly deemed unacceptable.

Even though she insists that she will not abolish Italy’s abortion laws, some worry she might restrict their application.

Image This episode of Peppa Pig features two mothers.


Naval blockade

Strong anti-immigrant stances are a cornerstone Ms Meloni’s manifesto. However, many economists point out that the economy of Italy, due to its low birthrate, requires migrants.

She called for a naval blockade on Africa’s Mediterranean coast in order to prevent migrants from reaching Italy.

She referred to the “Great Replacement” theory in the past, which suggested that global elites wanted to replace Europeans with immigrants.

Another notable speech she made at the rally of Vox, a Spanish rightist party, last June was: “Yes natural families, no to LGBT lobby.”

“Yes to sexual identity, but no to gender ideology.” “Yes to the culture and life, but no to the abyssal of death.”

“No to violence from Islam, please accept safer borders. No to mass immigration. Yes to working for our people. No to large international finance!”

One of the most controversial moments in the election campaign was when she retweeted the blurred footage of a Ukrainian woman being raped in an Italian city by an asylum seeker. She said she couldn’t keep silent in the face “this atrocious episode sexual violence”. Twitter removed the video for violating its rules.


“Moment of truth”

Giada Zampano is a journalist and expert on right-wing movements in Italy, who says that Ms Meloni has been a person who takes pride in being true to herself and always says what she thinks.

“On one side, we see an orator, a speaker who stirs the crowd and who seeks to appeal the 10% Fascist core in her electorate.

“On the other, we see the reassuring visage who seeks to allay the fears of Europe.”

Zampano, who anticipates Ms Meloni winning decisively, says: “Once her in power, she’ll have to show her true colours.”

“She will need to make decisions about Italy’s relationship to Europe, fiscal policy and nationalism, as well as the European recovery funds. These decisions will be more important than labels about Fascism/post-Fascism and neo-Fascism.

“That will be our moment of truth.”

Image Giorgia Maloni (left), with other women ministers from Silvio Berlusconi’s 2008 government


Her life

Ms. Meloni was raised in Rome by her mother in a working class neighborhood.

Her father moved to the Canary Islands when she was one. Ms Meloni and her sibling visited him only once or twice per year. Ms Meloni began to stop seeing him when she was eleven.

She was “fat” as a child and said it made her stronger.

After studying languages in high school, she never went to university and instead took on a variety of temporary jobs, including babysitter, flea market stall holder, bartender at a disco, and stall holder.

Her political passion was awakened in 1990 by the Mafia’s murder of a prosecutor.

As a teenager, she walked into a local branch of an earlier iteration, the heirs of the Fascists. This party had rebranded itself as mainstream conservative under its name, National Alliance.

Image: Meloni in 2015

She was 29 when she became an MP. At 31 she became the youngest minister post-war Italy. In 2008, she ran the youth portfolio of Mr Berlusconi’s coalition government.

She was also a part of the minority who did not participate in the unity coalition led by Mario Draghi.

Although she has a daughter with a TV reporter, she is not married.

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